Thursday, February 26, 2009

learn to share, or, we all forgot kindergarten

I went to Pecha Kucha Boston last night, which is totally awesome. I highly recommend finding/starting one in your city. It's 20 slides X 20 seconds, so if something is boring, fear not, it will be over soon! Plus it's fun to watch the speaker get flustered cause their slides are blipping along. Yay emax for organizing!

Anyway, there was one talk that I haven't been able to get out of my head. Robin Chase from GoLoco gave a talk about sharing. What is totally awesome is that by just trying to find her name right now, I found out she was the former CEO of Zipcar! Her talk totally mentioned them and now I know she really knows what she's talking about.

Anyway, she believes that sharing is integral to sustainability. And I totally agree with her. I don't own a toolkit, so I usually borrow my roommate's hammer when I want to hang a photo. It's annoying to go find him every time I need his hammer, but it would be more annoying to buy one. What I realized is that we probably don't even need a hammer per house -- we could survive with a hammer per 4 houses or a hammer per block. How often are you using your hammer? Would it kill you to have to wait a couple of hours for one? How much stuff could you get rid of if you knew you could borrow it, no problem, from a neighbor?

Our culture has way too much stuff -- everything is all about getting your own, new things. That "new car smell". Old mattresses have bedbugs. I want a new computer so I know there's nothing wrong with it. Thrift stores are gross. Ew, eating food out of a dumpster is disgusting (sometimes, it's not!)

We don't need all this new stuff! There's so much out there to reuse. The problem is figuring out a way to share, and to distribute ownership responsibilities fairly. My car is sitting in SF right now, unused. Why should I ship it to Boston when there are already so many cars here, and I don't even need one all the time? I've been using Zipcar, but it's kind of pricey, and not good for regular, short trips. I would like to let other people use my car in SF, but dealing with the insurance is a hassle. And what happens if something breaks? How do we figure out who should pay for repairs? Similar problems pop up with me leveraging other people's cars in Boston. I get that slimey feeling asking to borrow someone's car.

The other day I was walking down 6th street in Cambridge, freezing, and I found myself wishing I could hitchhike a ride with one of the people driving down the street past me (warm and snug in their cars), to MIT. Maybe I could set up a regular arrangement -- they drop me off at MIT (3 minute drive, 18 minute cold freezing walk) and I could make them coffee. Or a bagel. I would totally bring someone a bagel every morning if they'd drive me to school (I make good coffee too).

Food for thought. I want to live in a community where we all have less stuff!


  1. Some friends of mine are involved in the co-op scene. It always seemed great to me.

    As I recall, they actually have members who don't even live at the house -- they just buy in for the monthly fee so they have access to a place to hang out for dinner and interesting people.

  2. @Evan, that looks really nice! too bad it's in rochester.

  3. right on neha! sharing! freecycle is also a good service.

    when i went to tahoe a while back, ricky lent me all kinds of equipment. which was awesome. i have since bought my own, and i am wondering whether i really needed to do that.. i won't use it that much, after all.

    but i have it. more crap. doh.

  4. Typical Indian... trying to find cheaper ways of doing things. (JOKE - I'm indian)
    Someone who "borrows" stuff is a moocher. They're constantly badgering others for help. "Oh, can i get a ride?" No! Not because of the gas. But cause I DON'T HAVE TIME, I'M TIRED & WOULD LIKE TO FINISH UP WHAT I INTENDED ON USING THE CAR FOR IN THE FIRST PLACE!"

    Plus, if I "LENT" everything to everyone, I'D NEVER GET IT BACK!

    Also, what if that person isn't even home or people are sleeping or DON'T WANT TO BE DISTURBED and I need to use a hammer or something else for a non-911 emergency? (Cause if it was a 911 emergency, then I'd be going hog wild disturbing my crazy neighbors). Where would I get a hammer (or whatever else) at such an odd hour? I would have to have my own!

    Besides, what good would I be doing the economy, if no one wanted to buy anything for themselves?

    I think it would also SLOW down overall general PROGRESSION of things & people. People who grew up poor know what I mean. When you do not have enough "stuff" to help you, let's say, with your kid's science project, your kid ends up with a poor grade or being late with it or with a puny project or no project at all.

    If everyone "SHARED" it would also promote laziness and lack of hard work. It would say to homeless criminals who have no job, that they can get stuff for free or "borrow" without working hard for the money to buy stuff for themselves. It means that all the krap they pulled off to put them in that situation paid off, cause they can live for FREE by "sharing".

    I stopped having sympathy for homeless people when I found out that alot of them do this thing where they "share" with people (basically USE OTHERS). But what pissed me off is that alot of them are convicted criminals who did massive harm to people, like rape or drug dealing or assault, got out of jail and have no home. And most of them "get by" by mooching off of others and doing more crime. I remember one guy who had a job and said he use to be homeless. He still had a habit of trying to use people all the time as if it were normal. I told him that depending on people like that SO OFTEN is what promotes homelesness and lack of responsibility for oneself. I asked him, 'Who's gonna take care of you when your so-called friends aren't there for you anymore?' They wouldn't even be his friends if he didn't do stuff for them in return for things.

  5. tell you what-I'm in central square til 4:30pm-maybe we can work something out. I park my car idle for 8 hrs every day. I don't know what zip car charges, but I bet I'm a hell of a lot cheaper

  6. I agree that more of the stuff we own could be shared. I have my own hammer, but when I need a sledgehammer I go to the Tool Lending Library:

    For bicyclists, the bike kitchen has everything you need: